Newly elected Second Vice-President of SA Gymnastics, Keolebogile Mokolopo, hopes to develop the sport in disadvantaged areas and maximize efforts in the federation’s currently established hubs.

As a former gymnast, Mokolopo’s passion is unmatched as she prepares to leave a long-lasting mark, serving the gymnastics community during her term.

Celebrating more than a decade in leadership roles, Mokolopo is pleased that her hard work over the years is beginning to pay off and aims to be a beacon of hope for young girls who are eager to take up the sport.

The four-time World Champion medalist highlights her Rope Skipping Club “Rize Up Skippers”, as one of her biggest personal achievements to date.

Speaking with Celine Abrahams, Mokolopo reveals challenges juggling life in and out of sport and hopes to see more gymnastics disciplines introduced at school level.

Keo, congratulations on your election as Second Vice-President of SA Gymnastics! How are you feeling about this recognition?

Thank you very much for reaching out to me and for wishing me well. I am very excited about the journey and looking forward to the term being Vice-President for SA Gymnastics.

Tell us about your appointment and how it came about.

There were nominations open for provincial federations to nominate suitable candidates. I remember receiving an email about two months ago that I have been nominated 2nd Vice President for SA Gymnastics and a request to accept the nomination which I did then.

“It only hit me last week when I was voted for and so the emotions began.” – SA Gymnastics Second Vice-President, Keolebogile Mokolopo

I, however, knew there were still going to be votes on candidates nominated so there was a possibility of me not getting it. It only hit me last week when I was voted for and so the emotions began.

What will your new role at SA Gymnastics entail?

The role will be in essence to support our President. It entails further promoting and growing of our sport globally both on participation and leadership, whilst keeping our finances healthy. It will mean engagements with our internal and external stakeholders. Maintain proper governance and compliance for our sport to name a few.

What do you hope to achieve during your tenure?

More involvement and participation, especially from the disadvantaged areas and also to maximize efforts in our currently established hubs.

Have you received any advice from previous President/Vice Presidents?

Oh yes, I have! The advice I will keep in mind through my reign is to remember I am here to serve, it is about the people and not myself.

Where does your passion for sport come from?

I have always been active, from athletics to netball but I found my love in Gymnastics and that’s where the glue was super. Sports has kept me focused, determined and consistently aspiring to be better and I believe it has for a lot of people and that is why I am so passionate about it.

When did you realize you wanted a career in sport?

“This career I would say chose me, there was always a gap that had to be filled and I happened to be there to take on the extra challenge and that way I grew in leadership.” – Mokolopo on her journey in gymnastics.

This is so funny because I have always wanted to perform and not necessarily lead. This career I would say chose me, there was always a gap that had to be filled and I happened to be there to take on the extra challenge and that way I grew in leadership. Thinking about it, I have been in leadership roles for more than a decade, how quickly time flies.

As a former gymnast you are well aware of struggles to pursue a career out of the sport. What are some of the challenges you faced and are they still evident today?

I have always had to juggle life in and out of sport and to this day it has not changed. A career out of sport whilst participating in sport comes with its own challenges and time management is crucial. Unfortunately, a lot of sports people need to do this to fund the expenses associated with their sport and I don’t see this challenge going anywhere anytime soon.

How did you overcome your challenges?

I have been fortunate to have a good support structure and I am so grateful for that. My family has supported me through out. What I have learnt as well is wherever I am to make an impact, to be there, to be present and to leave a mark. A positive mindset is needed as a constant reminder why you are in the game. It is not always easy though as your mind challenges you at times but is definitely achievable.

You are a four-time World Champion medalist after winning a silver medal in 2017 for 180 sec endurance and in 2018 for individual single rope freestyle at the world jump rope championships. What are your other career highlights?

The establishment of my Rope Skipping Club “Rize Up Skippers”. What the club has achieved made me believe anything is possible despite all challenges we had.

Announced Athlete of the Month by World Jump Rope in June 2018.

Selected Sportswoman of the Year for SA Gymnastics 2018.

Being the South African Team Coach for China Open 2019 and what we achieved as a team.

Got elected to be on the BOD for International Jump Rope Union in 2019 representing Africa.

Receiving People’s Choice Sports Star Award for Mpumalanga Sports Awards 2020.

Which women in sport inspire you and why?

I would have to say Serena Williams, what that woman has endured in sports and how she dusted herself off and kept on going is absolutely amazing.

When you look at the current crop of gymnasts who stands out for you

Definitely Caitlin Roosekrantz. She is a reminder to us all that hard work pays off. So, so, proud of her!

What is your greatest ambition?

To see more Gymnastics in schools, especially stating it at an early age. The opportunities are there, especially with our disciplines that does not require a lot of equipment like Aerobic Gymnastics and rope skipping. I am looking forward to seeing Pakour take South Africa by storm.